I ran across a post on my Facebook news feed yesterday from Feeding America talking about their Invest an Acre partnership with Monsanto, ADM, and the Howard Buffett Foundation, in which they’re encouraging farmers to pledge an acre of their production, the benefits of which would go to Feeding America.
The comment section was lit up. Massive flames. The gist: Feeding America has sold out to the evil empire of Monsanto. Shame on them. Boycott. Occupy.
Let me offer a different perspective (and I can speak with some authority): Corporations are not monolithic empires. The most successful ones—and no matter your opinion of Monsanto, it is successful, as is Feeding America—are made up of diverse collections of people. They don’t all think and act alike. Each and every day their cultures evolve, influenced by this diversity.
The hunger relief community has the capacity to influence the culture within Monsanto (again, I speak with some authority). Much more so than Monsanto has the capacity to influence Feeding America. But they can’t do it if they’re lobbing nuclear bombs.
If you truly care about hunger relief, you should want the people who drove the Feeding America partnership (and I’ve never met any of them) to be successful within Monsanto. They’re the progressive thinkers within the company. They’ll have their naysayers (one would hope not many), stating, “This is an exercise in futility. There’s no way our company benefits from this.” Let me suggest that blanket invective only gives support to the naysayers and diminishes the influence of those who advocate for positive change. Do we want that?
If you truly care about hunger relief, you should want the thousands of farmers who use Monsanto products and sell to ADM to be engaged in the issue. They’re in the business of feeding people, and they do it quite well. If their energy, intelligence and innovation can be rallied around the issue of hunger, there’s enormous capacity to move the needle.
I don’t agree with everything Monsanto has done and stands for. But I do believe condemning Feeding America for engaging them and America’s farmers in the fight against hunger—a positive step—is counterproductive.
Flame-retardant suit donned.